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Brazilian Rosewood (Dalbergia Nigra) is a mythical tone-wood due to its scarcity and praised tone-qualities. No, in my experience it’s certainly not only her beautiful grain and stunning looks that credit to this Myth. The myth started when Martin Guitars stopped using Brazilian rosewood on their 21, 28, 35, 41 and 45 models back in 1969. Indian rosewood, although a fine quality tone-wood, didn’t bring the subtle brilliance and dynamics Brazilian Rosewood did.

Brazilian rosewood is only found in the eastern forests of the State of Bahia and southward to Espirito Santo and Rio de Janeiro and inlands of Brazil. Brazilian Rosewood is a protected species and due to its rarity a very expensive tone wood. In the early 1990s, Brazilian Rosewood was added to the list of endangered species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). To obtain Brazilian Rosewood today, it needs to be wood that was both harvested and exported before the ban, or harvested from natural fallen trees. Both require documentation of its provenance to permit exporting today.

Due to the long-time exploitation, the tree has become very scarce in the more accessible regions. Brazilian Rosewood is harder than the commonly-used Indian Rosewood, but is about the same density and weighs the same, that’s around 1200kg per M3 (53 pounds/Cubic Feet).
To give you a clue. Costs for legally cut or natural fallen Brazilian rosewood are somewhere around €75.000,00 to €100.000,00/m3, sometimes even much higher. You can cut  around 40/50 sets from a M3 if the log is good quality.

Brazilian Rosewood was used for the finest pre-war instruments by the major manufacturers. The beauty of color and figure are legendary, but I have to admit, this beauty can also be found in Cocobolo and Madagascar rosewood. And yes, the tone quality of Cocobolo and Madagascar are really impressive compared to say Indian rosewood, and sometimes even close to that of Brazilian rosewood. But compare two similar guitars, one with cocobolo or Madagascar and one with Brazilian rosewood and you will immediately notice the difference. The tone quality of Brazilian rosewood guitars is unique. Its balance, clarity of tone, quick response with a glass-like tap tone and its impressive dynamics set it aside from any other tone-wood.

Unfortunately, since Brazilian Rosewood is hardly imported in either Europe or the USA the still available Brazilian Rosewood stock has deteriorated to a much lower quality compared to that used on older guitars.
Many people ask me if a Brazilian rosewood guitar must be considered a worthwhile investment? I can only answer with yes, if the quality Brazilian rosewood is pre-ban, high quality, not to ‘knotty’ it is a darn good investment. Especially guitars made by highly regarded luthiers will be worthwhile in the end.

Concluding Brazilian Rosewood Guitars are supposedly the "Holy Grail" of Acoustic Flat top back and side woods and a worthwhile investment. I can only conclude and agree to that presumption.

Thanks for your attention,

Rudi Bults

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